By Jon Bream
Twelve impressions of the New Standards' annual holiday show Saturday at the Fitzgerald -- one for each night of Christmas
1. New Standards bassist/singer John Munson is very funny.
2. New Standards pianist/singer Chan Poling is a good foil for Munson. He knows just when to interrupt with the right words. Chan is beginning to look more and more like his father in law, Walter Mondale, who was sitting in the audience not far from the pianist. Chan also misses Dayton's.
3. The New Standards seem to know every talented musician, singer, poet and dancer in town. Whatta Rolodex! (They are old school, aren't they?)
4. Local singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith has an absolutely gorgeous voice. (And he looks too young to be in a bar with his clean-shaven look, which I hadn't seen before.) Aided by Janey Winterbauer, his version of an unfamiliar "Do You Believe in Miracles" was one of the evening's highlights.
5. Unadvertised guest Dan Wilson still has the most gorgeous male pop voice in town.
6. Jayhawks frontman Gary Louris took a real rock star turn, doing "I'd Run Away" (on electric guitar) with help from Winterbauer. (Who knew Gary could rock a tie-and-coat? He said his wife dressed him.)
7. A rare duet of Louris and Wilson doing the Kinks' "Father Christmas" ("the dark side of Christmas," as Munson introduced it) made the night.
8. New Standards fans always love it when the trio (even augmented by other players) do their cool covers; highlights on Saturday were Britney Spears' "Toxic," Flaming Lips' "Do You Realize" and, of course, Poling's "Love Is the Law" from his Suburbs.
9. Steve Roehm's vibraphones are what makes the New Standards the New Standards. As always, he never speaks in concert, playing Teller to Munson and Poling's Penn.
10. This concert introduced me to the poetry of the late Bill Holm. Tim Frantzich's reading of "Advice" makes me want to check out a book of Holm's.
11. Loose is better than tightly choreographed when it comes to a Christmas show. This one had the right spirit and camaraderie.
12. Joe Chvala is a terrific tap dancer and his efforts added perfect percussion to a few songs. And the rubber-limbed guy (sorry he wasn't mentioned in the program) who danced during OutKast's "Hey Ya" was totally delightful, loosey-goosey and creative with his moves and lip syncing.